Grand Contract Possibilities

June 5, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Fifty-one contractors, all hoping to get a slice of a $200 million pie, heard Erhardt-Hunt talk of the many opportunities available for them from the Grand Center expansion project.

Just about every kind of work is needed, from hauling concrete away to painting long hallways.

“Our goal is to get as much of this possibly done locally,” said Matthew Barnes, a construction manager for Erhardt-Hunt, a joint venture between Hunt Construction Group, an Indianapolis firm, and Ada-based Erhardt Construction.

Together the companies are directing the four-year project.

Another point Erhardt-Hunt made at the contractors meeting was that they wanted as much participation as possible from minority- and women-owned subcontractors.

The Convention and Arena Authority adopted the city’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) program last fall as its guideline for all construction projects, which calls for 11 percent participation by minority-owned firms and 1 percent involvement from companies headed by women.

“Everyone will get an equal opportunity to bid on this work,” said Bill Edwards, EEO and participation program manager for the Hunt Construction Group. “The goals are realistic and there are some opportunities.”

Edwards said M/WBE firms will be invited to workshops that will explain some of those opportunities and how they can get involved. He also asked for information from these firms so subcontractors could be matched to available work projects.

CAA Project Manager Dale Sommers warned the contractors that the construction team is serious about the guidelines and will work closely with the Equal Opportunity Office (EOO).

“We’re asking for a commitment to these (guidelines), and we expect a commitment,” said Sommers.

Of the 51 contractors present, a dozen were represented by minorities and women.

“We’re not talking quotas here,” said Ellen James of the city’s EOO department. “We’re talking goals.”

Minority subcontractors not registered with the city should check with EOO to find out whether they have to be registered before they can make a bid.

Barnes told the gathering that the CAA was buying all the necessary job-site insurance, including workman’s compensation and liability coverage. But the project’s package will not cover the contractors' equipment and any off-site storage of tools and supplies.

“By pooling the insurance together, we can get the owner a better rate,” said Barnes.

The Convention and Arena Authority (CAA), the public body that owns and operates the Grand Center, will likely purchase the construction insurance package from AIG, one of the world’s largest insurers.

As for the bids, these will be given and announced for various stages of the work through December 2002.

The bids to work on the $3 million addition to DeVos Hall are due on Feb. 28.

Bidding to demolish the Hall of Justice, the Grand Center parking ramp and the front portion of DeVos Hall has already begun. Construction documents are available at Builders Exchange and F.W Dodge.

CAA Project Leader Jim Gray advised the contractors that the $200 million renovation and construction project was complicated because the center and DeVos Hall will stay open for business while the work is being done. He said that meant cooperation between the work crews is necessary to ensure quality work and to provide a safe work site.

“We want no injuries on this project. We’re going to run a very safe site,” said Gray. “We’re looking for team players.”

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